Eternal Masters (EMA) has hit the shelves and it's a grand slam, slam dunk, touchdown, goooaaaal!
Not to over-exaggerate, but the set has been a roaring success among eternal fans and collectors. So, basically all of the people who tend to drive prices skyward and upward.
If the Masters sets have a mission statement, it's to make format staples more affordable to newer players. This was clearly the case for the Modern Masters sets, and they've been very successful in meeting that goal. Can you even imagine the price tags on Tarmogoyf and Dark Confidant if they hadn't been reprinted twice? It slippery-boggles the mind to even think about it.
Eternal Masters feels different to me than Modern Masters. I'm running on intuition here (Intuition for three copies of Deep Analysis or perhaps Accumulated Knowledge) but I've been around the block a couple of times in the world of Magic and it just doesn't feel the same.
How can Eternal Masters be about opening up and making Vintage and Legacy more accessible to the common player when all of the most important cards for constructed play that are currently inaccessible are on the Reserved List and not in the set? As if the thing holding the new kids back from joining the Legacy scene was finding an affordable copy of Karakas!
In my opinion, my imagined Masters mission statement might as well get thrown out with the bathwater because I just can't imagine it applies in a Reserved List world. The reduced prices on a few select non-Reserved List cards is a drop in Vigo's great river of negatively charged slime when it comes to lowering cost of entry into the format.
This, but pink, and instead of water it's full of slime and possible ghost monsters.
The only other way I could see Eternal Masters contributing to address cost issues in Legacy and Vintage was if a new eternal format was in the works. Some have suggested something like Legacy 1.5 where Reserved List cards like duals, Moat, The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale, etc. are illegal. That could be something we see further down the road (in which case those of us in the finance community will no doubt have much to say on the matter) but right now it doesn't seem imminent.
Thus, I believe Eternal Masters is intended principally for the already-established eternal players and collectors---and it's all about the foils.
I've noticed EMA has a lot of first-printing foils, and they're the types of cards that people like to play. These will be the chase cards of the set, the ones that retain and grow the most value moving forward.
Today I'm going to suggest some of the best foils that I think are either underpriced at the moment or have the potential to grow.
Japanese and Russian Foils Are Insane
Before I get into specific cards, let me say I'm fairly certain that anything desirable in Japanese or Russian foil will be a fantastic investment. It was very, very difficult for any retailers in the USA to actually get foreign product. I know that RIW Hobbies wasn't offered any at all (and we asked) and I've heard a similar tale from every other independent retailer I've asked.
I also know that a friend of mine contacted Hareruya and other Japanese retailers in search of foreign product and they responded saying they didn't have any sealed product for sale! When the biggest Japanese sellers don't have Japanese packs for sale it should tell you something...
The key is that there is so little of the foreign product available to start that the foreign foils are going to be crazy-expensive and in high demand. I mean, how much is a foil Japanese Force of Will going to sell for when there is tremendous demand and very, very scant supply? I would guess over $1000 easily.
Okay, so foil Japanese cards are going to be expensive if you can find them. Especially on cards that didn't have foil Japanese or regular foil versions before! The other thing to keep in mind is that even if they reprint cards in Duel Decks or Commander products, it only hurts the prices on regular copies, and the foils can still gain value.
Foil Mythic Rares
The art on this card is completely insane. I love it. In Vintage you can skull-Vamp for skull Necropotence! So, cool. Great flavor.
There are already promo foils of Vampiric Tutor available but I think the new art has a lot of appeal. Personally, I love the old card face but the new art is just so cool that I'm tempted to play with the new version.
Don't underestimate how particular Legacy players can be about their cards.
Yes, there is a judge foil version of Natural Order. Unfortunately, the judge foil has the ugly judge swoosh stuff in the text box, whereas the EMA version doesn't. Hence, people who play Elves really want the new foil version! On eternal staples, the "most pimp" or best version always separates itself from the pack.
Honestly, who wants to play the ugly foil? It's like playing with GP Promo Stoneforge Mystics. Are these really "blinged out?" Way worse than regular copies!
Baleful Strix is a very popular eternal and Commander from a precon that never had a foil version before. Well, now it does and all the fans of Shardless Sultai who enjoy foils are going to be drooling over this card.
Baleful Strix is a great card. I've certainly played it in Vintage many times. It is one of the cards that I'm actively looking to acquire for my Danger Room/Battlebox from this set. Which brings me to my third point, every foiled out cube also needs a copy of the card.
In my opinion one of the coolest and hottest cards in the set. Anytime the regular copy of a card is like $3 and the foil is $50 you know that the foil is totally killer.
The only foil version of Control Magic in existence? A pretty cool novelty for cubes everywhere! Unfortunately, I'm fairly certain that Alpha and Beta versions are way more baller than foils, but some people just love their foils unconditionally. Its a cool card for sure.
One of the big sleeper cards of the set. Diminishing Return is a card that frequently sees play in Legacy decks as a powerful Burning Wish target. This is also the first instance of a foil version of the card.
Storm fans tend to be willing to spend a little cash on cards and this seems like something they would be happy to buy. Also, it is a Combo Cube and Mono-Blue Cube staple!
The art is just better. It looks more classic. It looks iconic. It actually looks more like the art that an old eternal card ought to have! Oh the irony.
I've also always thought that the Mirage tutor art looked terrible and ugly. It isn't aesthetically pleasing to look at, whereas this version is very cool. I expect the whole tutor cycle to hold and gain.
The only foil version of Gamble in existence. Yeah, this card is going to sustain a price tag. I think these should already be more expensive that they are currently. I would have guessed that it should be more like $80-$100.
I imagine that is closer to where it will ultimately end up when things are all said and done. Gotta love Lands.
Another neat card that hasn't had a foil version in the past. Pyrokenesis is a great Magic card. I've played with it in various red decks throughout my lifetime and it is great in Cube. Another sleeper card.
It is also worth noting that the EMA version of Pyrokenesis is rare (it was uncommon in Alliances) which means foils won't be easy to find.
Personally, I'm also very excited to pick one of these up for my Danger Room. The card has a ton of Cube appeal. I'm going to wait and see if they come down from $50 before I decide to make a purchase but I feel like $50 is a reasonable place for the card to settle at.
The only premium version of Toxic Deluge, so this card will be highly desirable for the foreseeable future. The current price tag seems high but I think it is actually pretty reasonable for what the card is. I imagine these will retain value into the future as the card has Cube and Constructed appeal.
Also, if they make a new eternal format the card could be a bigger player in that format than it is even in Legacy. A three-mana Wrath is very interesting and unique!
The first foil printing of this iconic artifact that dates all the way back to Alpha! I love the new art (granted I like the Beta better) and enjoy that the card has the updated oracle wording on it! The card is just sweet. I can't exactly put my finger on why but I just want to own one for some reason!
A great Cube and Danger Room card that has never had a foil version before. I'm actively looking for one of these for my deck.
Great flavor too. Whenever I play it I sing a Beatles song and refer to the card in play as Ringo.
There has never been a premium version of Hydroblast before. The only copy that has existed since 1995 is the ugly Ice Age one. I expect this card to gain in value. It is an essential, iconic spell. It sees play in every format where it is legal and goes into lots of Cube and casual decks!
First, Pyroblast is like 10,000 times better and more played than Hydroblast. Basically every deck that can make red mana plays the card. Secondly, I actually think the new Pyroblast has much better art than the old version!
Not so much an eternal card, however the card is pretty widely played in Commander and Cube. Worn Powerstone has never had a foil pressing before and I anticipate this version will be in hot demand. It goes into basically every single artifact-themed casual deck ever thrown together.
I'm very happy to see a card like Worn Powerstone finally get a foil version!
As a player and fan, the thing that got me most excited about Eternal Masters were the new art and first-time foils. I think the long-term effect of the set will center around these cards. That's where the most, strongest money is at. Obviously the set has other applications with regard to the Magic economy and price trends but I think they will be relatively marginal. The money-makers from the set are going to be the foils and foreign cards.
The unique ones are the goods.